At the Net: Rafa & Serena take Paris by storm

Well, it should come as no shock that your 2013 French Open champions are Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.

Both players headed to Paris as the prohibitive favorites, even though on the men's side, Nadal relinquished the top seed to Novak Djokovic, who beat Rafa in a sexy clay-court final in Monte Carlo in April. Nadal was the eight-time reigning champ in Monaco.

In Paris, Nadal is now a men's-record 59-1 and record eight-time overall champion after whipping fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, in the final to become the first man ever to win eight major titles at one event. He's won the last four championships on the red clay at Roland Garros, this after claiming four straight from 2005-08.

Note: The great Martina Navratilova captured nine titles at Wimbledon over on the women's side.

The high-flying Serena notched Grand Slam singles title number 16, but only her second career French Open title, by dethroning 2012 champ Maria Sharapova in straights, 6-4, 6-4.

The incomparable Serena currently owns three of the four major championships, and also captured last year's WTA Championships and Olympic event in London. She's riding a seemingly unstoppable career-best 31-match winning streak and is a perfect 23-0 on clay in 2013.

She'll seek a second "Serena Slam" when she heads to Wimbledon in a few weeks.

Serena certainly looks like the best player of all-time the way she's been performing since being shocked by France's Virginie Razzano in the first round at last year's French extravaganza. Since that stunning defeat, the powerful American is a brilliant 74-3.

And in perhaps a biased claim, Serena's big sister Venus thinks her younger sibling is the best.

When asked to name the best player she's seen or faced, Venus said, "Clearly Serena. No doubt. I've played most of the greats, and she's definitely the best."

And Serena thinks her best years are still ahead of her.

"I want to go out in my peak. That's my goal. But have I peaked yet?" Serena said. "I definitely want to continue my journey to get a few more."

Serena's now 16-4 in her career major singles finals, and this week marked her first French Open final since winning it all in Paris 11 years ago.

The 31-year-old Serena still has a long way to go to catch Aussie Margaret Court and her 24 major titles. But she would match Navratilova and Chris Evert by the end of the year if she can win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Nadal improved to 12-5 in his Grand Slam finals, including 8-0 at Roland Garros. And since returning from a seven-month knee-injury layoff in February, the super Spaniard is 43-2, and has appeared in nine finals in as many events, winning seven of 'em, six of which were on his beloved dirt.

He's now tied with Aussie great Roy Emerson with his 12 major titles, is two behind Pete Sampras, and five behind the great Roger Federer.

The aforementioned 31-year-old Ferrer played in his first-ever Grand Slam final. Unfortunately it came against one the game's best-ever performers and was interrupted late in the second set when some shirtless, mask-wearing goofball ran onto the court wielding a fiery flare in his left hand, as Ferrer and Nadal were among those watching in disbelief as the crazed demonstrator was tackled by a security guard behind one of the baselines and over one of the court-side advertising panels.

The man, with the word "Kids right" written on his abdomen, ran close to Nadal's chair after a changeover, with Nadal set to serve for the second set at 5-1. Nadal, who was standing near the baseline at the time, jogged for the court exit when he saw the flames, but stopped when security reached the scene.

The bizarre event rattled both players, who were clearly not themselves for a couple of games following the mishap.

A bizarre moment, indeed.

Protests from the upper deck at Court Chatrier halted play earlier in the match as well.

And five shirtless protesters also waving red flares and wearing masks climbed to the top of the adjacent Court Lenglen and unfurled a banner calling for the resignation of French president Francois Hollande.

Note: Ferrer has lost 16 straight matches against Nadal on clay.

Djokovic, meanwhile, still needs a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, a feat that has already been accomplished by his contemporaries Federer and Nadal.

The anti-climactic men's final occurred because Djokovic and Nadal had to play each other in the semifinals, with a one seed taking on a three seed. And that semifinal was one of the best tennis matches you will ever see, as Rafa outlasted the Aussie Open champion Djokovic in an epic five-setter, which lasted four hours and 37 minutes as the two tennis giants pounded each other with one remarkable serve, forehand, backhand (and everything in between) after another until only one man was left standing on Chatrier, and that man, of course, was the all-time French Open king Nadal.

Djokovic will have to wait another day, as he still has reached only one French Open final, which resulted in a loss at the hands of (who else?) Nadal last year.

Federer was denied a chance at a second French Open title when he succumbed to French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who lost to Ferrer in the semis) in the quarterfinals. The 17-time major champion and reigning Wimbledon titlist Federer captured his lone French Open title in 2009 (the year Rafa was stunned by Robin Soderling in the fourth round) and is a four-time runner-up to Nadal in the French capital.

Note: The iron man Federer played in his 54th straight Slam.

Due to that seven-month inactivity, Nadal is still ranked only fourth in the world, despite the fact that's he's dominated the tour since his return four months ago.

Note: The men's championship trophy was presented to Nadal by track legend and six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.

Serena, obviously, is still No. 1 among the ladies, considering the only huge event she's failed to win since last summer in this year's Aussie.

Some also-rans on the women's side were Sharapova, who also lost to Serena in last year's Olympic gold-medal match at the All England Club, and Victoria Azarenka, who gave way to the then-defending French champion Sharapova in a three-set semifinal. Serena's lopsided semifinal victim was last year's French Open runner-up Sara Errani, who also lost in the women's doubles final on the last day of the '13 fortnight.

Note: Sharapova has lost her last 13 matches against Serena, with her last win coming in 2004.

The newest men's doubles champions at the French are the mighty twin Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, who snuck past a French duo of Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut in the final. It marked the world No. 1 Bryans' 14th career Grand Slam doubles title, but only their second in Paris, where they'd last won back in 2003.